Wednesday, December 25, 2013

I Survived Christmas!

Merry Christmas All!!!

Everyone worries about the holidays and the bad eating that seems to automatically ensue with them.  I'm no exception.  There's just so. much. food.  Constantly.  From light snacks in never ending supply to gargantuan dinners, not to mention the seemingly ENDLESS stream of cookies and the booze that flows freely throughout the entire season,  it's just a recipe for disaster.

I've tried to make sure I'm not going too crazy, and I've found that my big downfall at this point is not that I eat too much - I'm physically unable to do so - but that I eat more often than I need to, and that I eat all the wrong stuff.  Because I don't really ever get full when I do this, I tend to not pay attention to exactly what I'm putting in my mouth.  A cookie here, a candy there, a chip here, another cookie there, a piece of cheese, a half glass of wine, repeat repeat repeat.  There are days when I just graze all day long and by the time I go to bed I feel gross because I've just been nibbling on salt and fat and sugar all day long.  And the sugar - that's the big one.  

Unlike a bypass patient, I can have sugar.  I'm not at risk for "dumping" syndrome like a gastric bypass patient is, so a little sugar isn't going to kill me.  Except it kind of does.  I've noticed that if I eat something with a lot of sugar in it all at once - a candy bar, for example - I get the sensation that I've taken a stimulant.  I get shaky, "speedy," and disoriented.  But if I take in a lot of sugar in small doses throughout the day it produces a feeling of general malaise along with intestinal upset that catches up with me when I'm least expecting it and causes all kinds of havoc. 

It's not the end of the world, and I'm not going to beat myself up about it.  But I'm also not going to allow myself to slip into complacency.  As of right now my goal is to eat cleanly for the next week, get all my workouts in, and to be way more mindful about my eating on New Year's than I was over the last few days.   If the way I feel tonight is a lesson, I've learned it.   

Other than that, my Christmas was phenomenal.  One thing I've noticed is that I'm a lot more easygoing around my three nieces and my nephew than I have been before, and I think that's largely due to the fact that I have more energy to expend on them.  They still wear me out after an hour, but not like they used to.  Hell, just picking up a Barbie doll off the floor was enough to wind me before.  Now I can actually jump around and play with them without feeling like I'm going to pass out after five minutes.  Because I have more energy,  they don't stress me out so much.  And I think they really picked up on that.  We all had a great time.

And since you all seem to like my posts better when I produce photographic anecdotes, here's a picture of me with my nephew right after he was born two years ago in November of 2011,  followed by a photo of us on Christmas Eve this year.  We both look a LOT different, yeah? ;-)

That's all for now.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and if I don't get back here before then, here's wishing you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Eight Month Update: All the Stuff That Fits

It was actually a few days ago, but I'm just now getting around to posting this entry.  But...


I didn't bother to take progressive-series photos this time because I don't think there's a huge difference between last time I took a picture and now, but here are my current stats as of today:

Starting weight on 3/31/13 (start of pre-op diet): 259.8
Surgery Day weight on 4/10/13: 244.2
Current weight 12/10/13: 155.8
Total weight lost: 104 pounds (WOOHOO! I hit the 100 pound mark)!!!
Goal weight: 143
Pounds to goal: 12.8

Now, about my goal.  I chose 143 as a sort of arbitrary number.  My ideal weight is somewhere between 140 and 145, so 143 seemed like a reasonable point for which to aim.  However, I really do think that number is fluid.  I may get to 148 and decide I like it there.  I may get to 143 and decide to keep going and lose more.  I'm not basing it on the number on the scale, but rather on how I feel.  I'll know when I'm done. 

I've had a lot of people ask me recently if I've reached my goal yet, and when I tell them I still have about 10-15 pounds to go, they balk.  "No, you don't!" they'll say.  And I know they mean it as a compliment, but look.  These are people who have only seen me with clothes on.  These are people who knew me at 260 pounds and are comparing how I look now to how I looked then.  Yeah, I know I look a heck of a lot better, but I also know I'm not where I want to be yet. I know my body.  I know from experience where I feel most comfortable.  

I also know the excess skin that's a byproduct of this weight loss is contributing to a more than a few extra pounds as well.  So what I'm trying to do now is focus not so much on the number, but on my fitness and my measurements.   My BMI is currently 26, which is still in the "overweight" zone.  So that's really the number I'm concerned with.  Getting that number into the normal range of 19-24 is what I need to concentrate on.  Ultimately the more fat I lose, the less liposuction I'll need when it comes time to do the reconstruction stuff.  The more muscle I build the faster I will heal from the surgery.   And all of this translates into less money overall.  Insurance will cover some of it, but still it will come with a hefty copay. 

So.  Even though I didn't take a progressive-series shot this month, I do have some photos to post.  First, a look back at surgery day:

April 10, 2013
And a photo of me taken last weekend during the Messiah concert:

December 1, 2013

Granted, the first photo is of me in a hospital gown - not the most flattering garment out there, but still.

Here's another set, taken almost exactly a year apart at work.  First day of the holiday drink launch last year and this year:

It's time for new glasses, obviously.  Who knew you could actually shrink out of EYEGLASSES?  They don't tell you these things.  I mean, it's pretty much a given that you'll need to buy new clothes, but eyeglasses?  And shoes.  Most of my shoes are now at least a half size too big.  Who knew?

But I've had some other pleasant surprises, like my winter boots finally zipping up all the way to the top for the first time in EVER.  For real.  When I bought them  eight years ago they didn't zip all the way up, but I liked them and they were warm so I bought them anyway.  Now, eight winters later, they FINALLY fit.  The feet are now a little too big, but the shafts fit around my calves!

And here was the nicest surprise so far.   Several years ago my Claddagh ring, which I have had since my favorite aunt gave it to me as an 18th birthday gift and which I'd worn almost constantly since then, had to be shelved after my finger got too fat for it.  A couple weeks ago the rings I usually wear had gotten so big that they started slipping off my fingers, and even my biggest fingers could no longer contain them.  So I thought, "oh, I wonder if my Claddagh fits," and I went in search of it.  I pulled it out of the jewelry box, cleaned the tarnish off of it, and slipped it on my finger.  It fit.  It'd been probably nine years since I'd been able to wear this ring, and here it was on that finger again.

So, yeah.   Probably one of the happiest moments in this journey so far for me.  I skipped the bracelet charm when I hit my 100-pound mark because I can't afford one right now, but this made up for it.  Being able to pull this out and wear it again: priceless.  And I'm finding that many of the best moments along the way truly are.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Food is All the Rage

This is a WAY long overdue post, I know.  Sorry, but life just got in the way and as much as I wanted to write, I just kept putting it off.   Various projects, plus my chorus obligations, plus the holidays approaching, blah blah blah...standard excuse fare, really.

Anyway.  Tomorrow is my 8-month surgiversary.  I'm going to post my stats and such later on.  But before I get there, there's some other stuff I want to talk about first.

In the last few months I've noticed a disturbing trend with my temper.  Growing up and into early adulthood I was a hot head and had some genuine anger management issues.  But I was not allowed to throw tantrums as a kid, so I often ended up bottling the anger until I eventually exploded in a spectacular display of rage, complete with blackouts and mass destruction -- holes in walls, broken objects, and even sometimes (unintentional) self-injury.   Once I was out on my own, I stopped bottling the anger and, because I'd never learned how to control it properly, would just fly off the handle with the slightest provocation.  It was bad.

As I got older, I learned to get a handle on the anger through self-help, a shrink named Wendy, and a boss who was like, "you get zero more chances to stop yelling and throwing things on the sales floor. And you owe me a new stapler."

Initially I learned to channel it by crying, and to this day I will still cry buckets when I'm pissed off.  People misinterpret this a lot and think I'm just a crybaby, but whatever.  It beats a sharp stick in the eye, which is what those in my direct path may actually risk experiencing if I don't go the other direction and just bawl a river when I see red.  It's worked for years at this point.  I have also learned to control it through meditation, breathing, chanting, and prayer.

But in these last few months I've experienced anger impulses again.  I'm not talking about my pointed, near-breathless rants on Facebook and such.  I'm talking about actual, physical tantrums. Not to the point of blacking out like I used to, but still badly enough that I got worried.  The door-slamming, glass-smashing incident with Polyridiculous Guy on Halloween was just one in a series.  There have been other altercations, too - incidents that I don't even want to write about here because I'm genuinely embarrassed by my behavior - and it's become clear to me that I need to calm the fuck down.

But why is this happening?  What the hell?

After thinking about it and talking it through with a close friend, it finally dawned on me that for years I have been using food as a calming mechanism.  That I used it as a crutch to deal with feelings was never a secret, but somehow I never connected it with anger. (!)  Yet looking back, it's pretty damn crystal.  Of course I ate when I was angry. If I was pissed off, a distended belly full of sugar, fat, and salt was soothing.  And it was safe. If I was shoving Little Debbies down my gullet, I couldn't scream and hurl things across the room.  Except maybe a Little Debbie, but as far as I know no one's ever been injured by a flying Swiss Roll.  And then eventually I would be so stuffed that I'd pass out, and when I woke up I'd no longer be angry at my boss, my boyfriend, my mother, or the bank.  I'd only be angry at myself.  So I'd cry a little, then wipe my eyes, blow my nose, take a few swigs of Mylanta, and roll on my way.  Problem solved.  Except not.

Well, guess what.  That's not an option anymore.  Not that I haven't tried, mind you.  I've written in previous entries about my brain and how it keeps telling me to eat things that I shouldn't, and when I do that my stomach is all, "no way, don't put that shit in here" about it.  But because I can no longer use food to drug my temper into submission, it's like someone just unhitched the beast from the post and let it run amok.  Reining it in has proven to be a whole new challenge that I'd never even considered when all this started.  I had almost forgotten what a temper I had because it'd been a really long time since I'd lost it.  But now that I understand where it's all coming from I'm better able to deal with it and have resolved to catch myself and breathe, pray, meditate, run up and down the stairs a few times, go lift some weights...anything I can do.  Just because I've attempted to free myself from one set of shackles doesn't mean I can just go settle into a new rut of equally bad behavior.  So that's it.

Man. I knew there'd be turbulence on this journey, but I didn't expect it to be the kind that makes even the flight attendants nervous, with oxygen masks popping out of the overhead hatch and whatnot.  This was a real revelation.